How long is the average movie?

If I call a friend and she says that she is about to watch a movie, and gives no further information, how long should I wait until I can assume the movie is over and call her back?

This may seem a silly question but I never watch movies so I really have no idea.

Most movies these days seem to be about an hour and a half–hour fourty-five–two at the most.

Funny, I seemed to remember them longer as a kid.

Unless she’s watching “Gone With the Wind” or “Doctor Zhivago”, give your friend two hours.

I’m going to have to disagree. Most movies I’ve watched lately have tended to be around the 2 hr 20min mark or a little longer. Especially if its something like Lord of The Rings…

And if she’s watching it at home, she may stop it for food or bathroom breaks. I’d give it two and a half hours.

What type of movie does she like?

If it’s a comedy I’d put it around 90 mins.

A drama 2 hours maybe more.

Wow, you people are fast.

She is “at a friend’s house.” That is all I know – at a friend’s house, and about to watch a movie. And I heard someone in the background say “we’re waiting for you!”

She seems to watch movies a lot, so I would guess she likes all kinds of movies.

Hopefully, they’re not watching The Cure for Insomnia (1987). If so, you’ll need to wait until at least Friday morning (depending on bathroom breaks) to call her back. :smiley:

And for all that . . . no answer. :frowning:

Thanks anyway folks.

Well, with all due respect, and not wishing to sound too snarky, a factual answer to your OP would still be of no use to you.

Let’s just say that the Teeming Millions had come up with a factual answer by crunching the numbers on every single movie ever made (an impossible task I know, but bear with me) and come up with an answer of, say, 1hr 47min and 33.659 seconds.

How would you use that information? The fact is, your friend is watching a specific movie, not “the average” movie.

I would recommend that, in future, you try one of two alternatives:
[li]Ask her what movie she’s going to watch, then look up the length on, and add a few minutes for bathroom breaks.[/li][li]Ask her to call you back when the movie is over.[/li][/ul]

I did not have a chance to ask either question as she was being hollered at by other people in the room and hung up rather abruptly.

I suppose the value of a factual answer here would depend on the variance among movie times. I was under the impression (and still am, though I stand to be corrected) that it is fairly small.

Here is a list of the top 50 US DVD rentals for the most recent week for which data are available (at time of writing, it’s the week ending June 12, 2005). Each movie listed has a link to its IMDB page, where you’ll find the running length.

For the top 10 of currently-rented movies, the running times (in minutes) are:
As you can see, there’s almost a 2:1 spread. You can calculate the variance if you want, of course. For the movies I watch, I would generally expect about 120 min on average, but I watch more dramas than comedies.

Your optimal course of action, of course, will depend upon how annoyed she would be if you called again before the movie is over! If I were in your situation, I’d go with 150min as a fair time to wait.

But the 170 is a significant outlier. I looked at the other 40 in the list and it’s the longest one. The second longest is only 143 minutes.

I entered the first 25 movies into my calculator and the five-number summary is 84, 97, 113, 122, 170. So half of them are between 97 minutes and 122 minutes long. Probably more variation than I expected, but not staggering.

Also, two and a half hours is exactly how long I waited, per commasense’s recommendation.

I also think that movies are getting longer on the whole - I used to estimate the average film length to be around 90min, but now I’d expect it to be closer to two hours…


Maybe it is time to get a new, less abrubt friend.

You are assuming that your “friend” will not be watching the special features (if any). You also assume your “friend” will not want to rewatch the movie with the director’s commentary (if it exists).

170 minutes???

The Aviator, huh?

That must have been an unpleasant film for projectionists to handle. These days, theaters use platter systems for holding the film. On the Christie platters we used at my theater, seven 20min reels (a slightly longish film) fit quite nicely on a platter. Eight reels brought the film almost to the edge of the platter, leaving precious little room for the suction cup doohickey that we used to keep the loose end from unwinding.
170 minutes must have come out on eight fat reels. Throw on a few commercials and previews and the film is falling off the edge of the platter.

Unless, of course, they used special thin film stock or the film was shown with an intermission so that the projectionist could switch to a new platter in an old-school moment.

IIRC films way back when (like say the 1940s) on average were shorter than today. The reason being often both an “A” and then a “B” film were shown.

I do love receiving unsolicited personal advice in GQ. It really makes my day. Every time. Keep doing it.

Meanwhile, I will petition the administrators to rename this forum General Questions and Free Psychotherapy Sessions.